Ever played with an etch-a-sketch growing up? Then you can meditate.
People always have hesitations and concerns when the topic of meditation comes up. And ultimately, the question is always the same:
“What if I do it wrong?”
Here’s the good news: There is no such thing as wrong.
You don’t have to try and get your legs into a pretzel-lotus-who-on-earth-is-that-bendy-position. You don’t have to chant Sanskrit, and you don’t have to listen to a 45-minute guided meditation recorded in the 70s by a long bearded new age hippie guru living in a naked commune somewhere in California. Although, hey if that’s your thing, more power to you!
There is no wrong. All you have to do is breath. You can breath to whatever music or nature sounds you like, whether those waves are coming from the beach you live by (jealous!) or your Iphone 6 meditation app (still jealous).
You can breath to Deepak Chopra, Enya or Trent Reznor’s voice (yummy!).
You can breathe in the morning, at night or right after your boss walks out of your office.
You can breathe vertical, horizontal, with a pillow or without, hands on your lap, on your knees, or in that finger position – the name of which I do not know, but the one where your pinkie is up like your British and drinking tea.
There is no wrong. Whatever chills you the fuck out and doesn’t obstruct your breathing passageways – meaning fetal position is out. I know it’s my favorite too.
Great, so once you are relaxed in whatever position works good, you’ve closed your eyes and you’ve started to focus on your breath. All you need to do is… keep focusing on your breath.
This is where everyone gets confused. “Am I really supposed to think about “nothing”? And what does that even mean?”
I hear you. Just like yoga, and just like life, it’s all in the process and not the end goal. Yes, the goal is to “clear your mind” but most of the time we don’t get there.
Because we are human.
And because most of us have been taught that more thoughts we have the smarter we are. Why on earth would we let go of the super fast modem of our mind? We spent our whole life upgrading! You want me to stop thinking? That’s nonsense.
Yes, that voice will creep up. As will all the good and bad business ideas you never had; as will your grocery list for the week; and the ten things you forgot to do last week; and the love for your bestie; and the anger towards your ex. And. And. And.
At this point that same voice is also probably saying “Man do you suck at meditation.” Ignore this little fucker. Because remember: There is no wrong.
So you can’t suck.
I like to think of meditation like an etch-a-sketch. You fill up your mind with little doodles and then swipe.
New doodles. New daydreams. Then swipe.
Shit crowds your rectangle. And then swipe.
I think the trap we fall into is that we all want to sit down on day one and reach this highly coveted state of enlightenment where our mind etch-a-sketch is always blank. And if we don’t, we think we are failing.
Sometimes, I spend 8 minutes of my 10-minute meditation sketching before I even realize that I need to SWIPE the slate blank. Sometimes, I am swiping every 5 seconds. Sometimes, the whole meditation is just my mind doodling away and the timer rings before I’ve swiped once.
All of these meditations are equally good for me – because I’m working the swipe muscle.
And why does this swipe muscle matter so much? Because that’s why we are meditating in the first place!
So when shit comes up during the day, your swiping muscle is instantly activated, and you are able to swipe it away if you don’t want it hanging over you for the rest of the day.
So that you can exercise control over your own thoughts.
So you can CHOOSE if you want to wipe or keep the latest doodle.
Work on this skill and you’ll have a lot more in your pocket than just a game. You’ll have the mental muscle to choose what thoughts throughout your day you want to keep and which you want to erase off your mental etch-a-sketch.
Because sometimes, the drawing sucks. And you just need to start again.